Court Business Paralyzed as Prosecutors Strike

3055 Views Luweero, Uganda

In short
Currently the lowest ranking State Prosecutor earns a gross salary of 645,000 Shillings while those at the rank of Senior Principal State Attorney earn 2.1 million Shillings a month. The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution is paid 2.9 million Shillings; the Assistant DPP earns 2.4 million Shillings while the DPP earns 11 million Shillings.

Scores of complainants and suspects are stranded in courts across the country as State Prosecutors laid down their tools over low pay and poor working conditions.

Currently the lowest ranking State Prosecutor earns a gross salary of 645,000 Shillings while those at the rank of Senior Principal State Attorney earn 2.1 million Shillings a month. The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution is paid 2.9 million Shillings; the Assistant DPP earns 2.4 million Shillings while the DPP earns 11 million Shillings.

But the Prosecutors, under the umbrella Uganda Association of Prosecutors (UAP), are demanding that the minimum salary of the lower ranking officials be raised to at least 9 million Shillings and 40 million Shillings for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

They had given the state a period of 14 days from June 23, within which to announce changes in their remuneration. The days elapsed yesterday without any change, leading to a strike that has paralyzed business in courts across the country.

In Luweero, plaintiffs, defendants and witnesses turned up at Luweero magistrate court for hearing of their cases but were told that court couldn't proceed in the absence of prosecutors.

There are three State Prosecutors handling cases at the Magistrates and High Court in Luweero. However, only one reported to the office today.

Luweero Resident State Attorney Beatrice Alok told URN that she had turned up out of courtesy because there was a special high court session presided over by Justice Elizabeth Kabanda whom she had not earlier on informed about her absence over strike.

State Attorney Beatrice Alok later met Justice Elizabeth Kabanda and informed her about the ongoing strike at court but they agreed to work today as they monitor the situation before 4pm to determine whether to adjourn until the strike is called off or not.

All cases in Luweero Grade II and Chief Magistrate courts today were adjourned.

Charles Sserubuuga, the Luweero Chief Magistrate had eight cases to handle today. However he told URN he has decided to adjourn all cases brought to him and stayed in office for administrative work because of the strike.  He adds that their grievances are genuine and equally disappointed over salary disparities in government positions.
 
Some suspects' bails were extended and other remanded further.
 
Police, suspects, complainants and witness have asked the prosecutors to call off the strike and use dialogue to address their grievances

Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson Paul Kangavve says that the strike may also paralyze police investigations since this is always done with guidance of state prosecutors. He adds that to avoid crowding of police cells over unsanctioned files by the state, they are considering giving police bond to suspects on minor cases.
 
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Kakabala parish councillor Salim Zimula says many people spent transport to attend the court session and stand surety for their relatives in vain. He adds that the strike has denied suspects a right to speedy trial.
 
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Emmanuel Busulwa, a resident of Janda village in Zirobwe Sub County is among complainants who were found stuck at court after finding the State attorney on strike. Busulwa expressed dismay at the strike saying its meaningless to table demands after the budgeting process.
 
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Senior Communications Officer for the Judiciary Solomon Muyita confirms the paralysis across the country adding that it's likely to increase the backlog in courts of law.  
 
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About the author

Brian Luwaga
Since Brian Luwaga joined Uganda Radio Network in 2011, he is still amazed how, "URN is a place that gives journalists a chance to enhance their skills . It gives a journalist an opportunity to adopt and master various aspects of journalism that include radio broadcast, social media, photography and television production."

A practicing journalist since 2009, first with Star FM, Luwaga has always been keen to write about the concerns of the "common person." Based for much of his career in Luweero, Luwaga takes it as a compliment if politicians complain that his reporting is too harsh.

In his journalism, Luwaga likes to merge the past with the present. He believes you cannot understand what is happening now, if you do not have a grounding in the past. Brian Luwaga is the Luweero URN bureau chief. Nakasongola, Nakaseke, Mityana, Mubende and Wakiso districts fall under his docket.

Luwaga is interested in humanitarian work and is a keen Rotarian.